. There are times we conclude something is the sign of humans because of what we believe we know of the history of our development. We have determined there were different species of humans, with different characteristics, and drawing that line between a human and the more ape-like animal we evolved from is an interesting prospect.Since we are immersed in history, — Angelo Cannata
I've never explored this question in depth as I suspect it is largely a product of perspective and I'm not sure it is of significant use to me. I generally hold that humans are clever animals who use language to manage their environment. Most humans seem to require social contact and some form of validation and emotional comfort and an experience of love (however that looks for them). How do we develop our characteristics? Not sure it matters to me. In talking to people who have suicidal ideation, the most common themes (apart form traumatic histories) are that they feel isolated, misunderstood and devalued by family/friends/society. Seems to me human desire to connect meaningfully with others and how successful we are in achieving this, tends to determine whether we are content or resentful. — Tom Storm
But in the spirit of sportsmanship — L'éléphant
You have asked an interesting question and it is fairly difficult because people vary so much. However, there may be some underlying aspects of human nature, or essential aspects of motivation. Maslow speaks of the hierarchy of needs which begin from physical to the social ones with the need for self-actualization as the highest ones. All these aspects may be linked to what a human being may become.
Part of the issue of what is essential to being human is the way in which life circumstances can bring out so many different aspects and education may be about cultivating the best possibilities. There is the question of nature and nurture as a questionable area with genetic determinants but what happens in early life may be extremely influential, as stressed by the child psychologists, including John Bowlby. The role of trauma may have a critical effects on core development of personality.
The process of becoming is a life long art, and what happens at any stage can either make or break a person. However, it may be that working on oneself, in spite of difficult life experiences, as the idea of 'the examined life's may be about reflection on the narrative of experience, as an important process of being human in a consciously aware way. This conscious awareness can be about becoming a person in a unique sense. — Jack Cummins
having a body — Jackson
DNA — Philosophim
language — Xtrix
all pretend to be discoveries, as if being human had to be this way, and no other, but when you look closer each is an imposition. Each will rule someone in as human and someone else out - the physically disabled, the genetically divergent (non Aryan...), the non-verbal, the unconscious; and in ruling out some folk who we would otherwise call human, each fails. But further, each has political implications, each implies that we ought act one way towards some folk and another way towards others.awareness — Xtrix
So I would make two points: The first is that any definition that claims to set out the essence of being human will be wrong. The second is that the process of defining what it is to be human is ethical and political.
So it might be worth giving some consideration as to if one ought try to set out such an essence. — Banno
a shame he then goes on to posit intellect as somehow essential to being human — Banno
Perhaps we might agree that any categorisation of what it is to be human will fail? — Banno
However, that said, intellectually disabled persons are not representative of being human. I suppose to put it in classical terms of essence and accident, their disability is an accident whilst their humanity is essential. I also agree with the Aristotelian classification of the human as 'rational animal', in that we're clearly descended from and related to all other species from a biological perspective, but that the ability to reason, think and speak distinguishes humans from other animals in a fundamental way. — Wayfarer
The term "beetle" obtains meaning through use like any other term. I acknowledge the beetle is claimed to be known in a non-empirical, faith based way, but that doesn't make it a religious faith. That just means it's known through an alternative epistemological system.
The beetle is totally other, separate, sacred, transcendent, reverend, and set apart from every created thing. — What Does The Word Holy Mean?
I do not believe there can be a definition setting out what it is to be a human and I am not an essentialist. And arguably the groups who have sought to define what is human have tended towards genocidal projects. — Tom Storm
all pretend to be discoveries, as if being human had to be this way, and no other, but when you look closer each is an imposition. — Banno
Each will rule someone in as human and someone else out - the physically disabled, the genetically divergent (non Aryan...), the non-verbal, the unconscious; and in ruling out some folk who we would otherwise call human, each fails. — Banno
the process of defining what it is to be human is ethical and political. — Banno
Any explicit (ie, stipulative) categorisation will leave some things in and some out. How useful that is depends on the task in hand. If one's task is to reduce the cost of dealing with disability, it might be useful to stipulate that those without language are not human.Perhaps categorization of anything whatsoever will fail. — Xtrix
1. There are humans who do not use language. Hence the definition leaves out some who should be included. — Banno
2. There are language behaviours in non-humans. Hence the definition includes animals that are not human. — Banno
So I'm not doubting that "what is a human being" is an important question, but the suggestion that it be answered by stipulation, by setting out an essence. — Banno
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